Your book cover is your first impression. It’s your marketing, your advertising and your promotion all rolled into one and if your cover is poorly done or unprofessional or even if it doesn’t match the current conventions for the genre you are writing in it will most certainly impact your sales. If your book isn’t selling the way you had hoped, then the very first thing you need to do is take a hard look at your book cover.
If anyone ever says to you, “It’s art, there are no rules,” they are wrong. It’s not art, it’s your book cover design and there are rules and guidelines that should be followed for every book, for every genre, to get the results you need to get from your cover.
Don’t give away the plot in your blurb or on your cover
One of the worst things you can do for your book is to give away the plot before the reader can even buy the book.
When you create your cover (or have it created) try not to use the “scene” method when deciding what you’d like to see on the front of your book. Scenes are generally crowded, cluttered and tend to look very messy and unprofessional on a cover thereby breaking the “Keep it Simple” rule above. Also keep in mind, unless you’re having a cover hand drawn or painted from scratch (usually a very expensive option), you (or your designer) are going to have to find stock photos for every element of your cover. While stock photography has come a long way of late with more specific online resources opening up geared towards book cover designers, finding every element of your complex scene as a stock photo is going to be nearly impossible and possibly quite expensive. Even if you should manage to find every element, compositing them together seamlessly in order to have a professional looking cover is a very daunting and, again, next to impossible task.
The other problem that arises when using the “scene” method for building your cover is that chances are the scene you think is best is going to be a major plot point scene in your book. If you give that away on the cover your reader is going to know what is going to happen next, giving them no real reason to keep turning the pages to find out.
Similarly, the blurb or description for your book is just that, a blurb. You don’t want to outline your plot or give away the ending. Your description is a follow up to the cover designed to intrigue the reader and make them want to purchase your book. Your blurb should be well written enough to compel the reader to buy your book simply to find out how your characters handle the scenarios put forth in your description. Also keep in mind one small point. If your book is going to print remember that your blurb is going to have to fit on about three quarters of the back cover. Why three quarters? There needs to be space left at the bottom for a barcode. Remember to keep your blurbs short and sweet but compelling. This is not an easy task and one of the reasons authors tend to find writing blurbs the least enjoyable part of publishing.
Keeping all of these things in mind before your cover is designed will help you get the cover best suited to your book that will get people clicking and picking it up off the shelf. Always keep that goal in mind when planning out your cover because if your goal was to create beautiful artwork you’d be a painter. But you’re not, you’re a writer and your goal is to get your work out there into the world and let people read it.
Joshua Jadon is a book cover designer for New York Times and internationally bestselling authors. His mission is solely to create eye-catching book cover designs that significantly increase the amount of copies each author sells. This aim is accomplished by ensuring that there is always something special in each book cover that catches the interests of potential readers. Find out more at http://www.joshuajadon.com.